MUZZAFARABAD: The death toll in Neelum River bridge collapse reached to 12 on Monday with six tourists still missing, according to reports.
Earlier in the day, rescue operation on Monday resumed to recover six missing tourists, who fell into the river after a bridge collapsed in Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir on Sunday.
“Six bodies of the tourists have been recovered from the river while the search for six missing persons is still underway,” Commissioner Muzaffarabad Imtiaz Ahmed told the media, confirming that five women and seven men have lost their lives in the accident.
Four bodies have been sent to their respective villages through an army helicopter, an official said.
A total of 23 students fell into the river after the bridge collapse, 11 of them were rescued immediately. Rescue officials stated that around two dozen tourists, mostly students from Faisalabad, stopped to take pictures on the bridge, located over the Jagran Nullah in Kundal Shahi area when the bridge collapsed as it could not withstand the pressure.
The bridge, that could only withstand a maximum of four people, had shown relevant signs of collapsing but the tourists still thronged the bridge. The locals said that the victims were likely students of two medical colleges from Lahore and Faisalabad who were touring the valley.
Commissioner Muzaffarabad Imtiaz Ahmed said seven tourists injured in the incident, identified as Shah Zaib, Abdul Rehman, Muhammad Zubair, Shahzad, Nadeem, Saeed, and Hamad, have been recovered. Those who have been admitted to district hospital Authmaqam include Anum Matloob, Anisa Bibi, Walid, and Sajid.
PAK ARMY TO RESCUE:
He further said Pakistan Army is assisting the civil administration in the rescue. A Pakistan Army’s team of SSG soldiers, doctors, paramedical staff, and divers reached the site of the incident, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
The army’s media wing said that the Army personnel shifted four bodies and 11 injured to Muzaffarabad from Shahkot via helicopter.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister (PM) Raja Farooq Haider took the notice of the incident and sought a report on it from authorities concerned.
The prime minister of Azad Kashmir ordered the setting up of a control room in Muzaffarabad and directed families of the victims to contact the centre at 0582220097
AJK PRESIDENT EXPRESSES GRIEF:
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan expressed deepest grief and sorrow over the tragic incident. He has announced Rs 200,000 in compensation for each student died in the bridge collapse.
In a meeting in Muzaffarabad today, he also announced fifty thousand for the injured students. Haider directed the concerned officials to take all precautionary measure to avoid such incidents in future.
He also directed the district administration Neelum to provide all requisite guidance to the tourists visiting scenic Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir.
In a statement issued on Monday, the president sent his prayers and thoughts to the families of the victims and prayed that may God grant them the patience and strength to bear this irreparable loss. The president said that a well-coordinated search and rescue operation had been initiated, where the administration and other authorities concerned had been mobilised and have ensured that the best medical assistance is being provided to the injured.